2nd Studio is the Danish game development studio consisting of two core members: Nikki Starostka and  Dennis Jensen. They have worked on feature films as well as mass market games, crafted innovative visual experiences for games and films for clients like Disney, Logic Artists, Kiloo etc. At the moment they are crowdfunding their latest project KnightOut.

Will get you on the edge of the couch as you battle your best friend. How will you bring your soon to be ex friend to his knees? Use your strategic overview as you build your castle which defines half of the battlefield, a good defense is all you need, or master the sword and take him out in close combat.

We went to visit 2nd studio in the house to many Danish game startups Arsenalet, where we were welcomed by Nikki who was very kind and found a time to answer our questions.

Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your role in the company?

I am the Creative Director and co-owner, so I have to wear a lot of hats and manage the company together with Dennis, but I try to focus most of my work on the creative vision of our projects.

So you are the guy who decides on the art direction of the game?

Yes, I come up with some ideas or suggestions about how something should look, not only art style, but also story wise. Actually, the roles  are really vague because we can overlap in many places. Dennis, for example, got the same education as me, so he knows how to make graphics and does it sometimes.

Where did you meet each other?

We met some time ago in Odense, Fyn. We only took the first part of our education, and after haven’t seen each other again for a couple of years, and then we met up here at The Animation Workshop and ended up in the same class!

Why you called your company “2nd Studio”?

There are lots of answers on that one. First of all – it sort of looks cool. Second – when we were discussing and defining all what company should stand for we visited a lot of workshops and courses. At one of them there was a talk with an artist, who was talking about the first Zelda game, and how upon completion of the game, you can do certain things to get to this whole other world, called “the 2nd quest”. It spoke to me and Dennis and we implemented that into our name. Also the N and D in “2nd ”  stand for Nikki and Dennis.

How do you feel about all the support you’ve got? Did you expect people to help you reach the goal and even go beyond?

We’ve put the goal pretty low at that point because we were a long way in already and would be able to finish the game. We’ve made it with the intention that we should have a certain chance to reach it. It was expected to reach it, but we were surprised it happened that early.

Did you have any sort of art inspiration during the development of the KnighOut?

It was very spontaneous, the whole process, actually. But I’ve had a lot of video games, a lot of fantasy games, so of course, it got inspired by them, unconsciously. In terms of an official main inspiration – there was none.

Can you say your love for LEGO inspired the way game looks?

Yes, not so much in the visuals, but more in the gameplay.

How you came up with the idea to develop for Nintendo Switch?

We had the concept, that it should be very simple, it should not be too crowded on the screen, as well, when you are playing together, you don’t have to have the split screen or anything. It made sense to put it on the SWITCH, and we could keep the specific ideas or ideals of the game.

Why did you decide to go for crowdfunding in general?

Actually we weren’t considering crowdfunding. After our last campaign with Jazon and the Dead concluded, we thought ” the next thing we are making, we are not going to depend on funding “. The whole idea was that it should be something that we can make ourselves, without being dependant on anything from the outside. But then, we’ve made a prototype,polished it, and made an update on our previous campaign, so people could sign up for the newsletter and so on… And the guys from FIG, the crowdfunding platform contacted us and said asked if we would like to put KnightOut on the platform.

So you were actually contacted by the crowdfunding platform?

Yes, they were the ones, they came out with this idea of having us on their platform again! And that made us think this might just speed up the whole process, otherwise we would have to make a lot of small jobs to get the money, and this way – we could just complete it faster!

I can see you have a lot of Star Wars things here, but who is your favorite, the most liked character?

Aaaahh. I Think… I think… Maybe… yes, it probably carried along from when I was the little child, but since back then I was always thinking that Yoda was really cool.

Do you have a lightsaber?

No, but I was actually looking into buying one, but I haven’t had the money to do it because I want a really nice one, the one you can actually practice with. There is a site, ultra sabers, where they make really cool ones, with the sound effects as well, but you also can clash on them without breaking them.

Can you give an advice, for new developers, or for people who want to start developing games?

Keep it simple! It is better to do something simple, and you can always build on top of that.

Thanks for all the answers!
KnighOut crowdfunding campaign is up until 28th of July 2017. Please consider to support them!
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Text and interview by Valerija Trane

Photos made by Ervins Trans

Pictures and illustrations taken from KnightOut Fig campaign